In the midst of the recent finacial market craziness, here’s some good news: Neuberger Berman, a division of Lehman Brothers, is doing just fine. No, I don’t fully understand how a company can pick and choose which of its assets to include in a bankruptcy proceeding, but I’m happy anyway. (Go here for a little explanation of what’s going on with Lehman Brothers and Neuberger Berman.)
And a more succinct explanation from their web site: "Neuberger Berman is operating as usual and is not subject to the bankruptcy proceedings of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Our portfolio management, research, and trading operations are fully functional, and our portfolio managers continue to actively manage our clients' assets and will do so going forward. All mutual fund assets are segregated from Lehman Brothers and are held by the custodian, State Street Bank & Trust."
Why do we care? Because Neuberger Berman has a terrific and active art collection. Curated and directed by Michael Danoff and his staff of at least five, this collection is a visionary, guiding force in the contemporary art world. Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Danoff himself selected an Alan Dehmer photograph from our booth at the Affordable Art Fair in June? (Low Country, pictured left) He saw it and reserved it at 5:55pm on the night of the Opening Preview, which started at 6pm. Two hours later, he came back and bought it. A delightful gentleman. It is an honor to have a work included in such a prestigious collection.
Here’s a little history on the Neuberger Berman collection that comes from a press release about the exhibition’s stop at the Tampa Museum of Art in 2004:
"Contemporary art in the workplace has been a part of Neuberger Berman's corporate culture since the investment firm was founded in 1939. The Neuberger Berman Art Collection supports the efforts of living artists and creates a stimulating, enriching environment for employees and visitors. Crosscurrents at Century's End reflects the diversity of the firm's international contemporary collection, which includes nearly 600 works housed in Neuberger Berman's corporate headquarters in New York and satellite offices in cities across the United States, including Tampa (see their catalog here). The collection consists predominately of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and drawings. At Neuberger Berman, art is integrated into the workplace and the daily working environment. This is the first public exhibition of selections from the collection, and the Tampa Museum of Art is the final stop on a four-city tour.
In 1990, Neuberger Berman decided to set aside funds for the purchase of works by emerging to mid-career artists, with an emphasis on the former. The collecting principle of the program is to acquire stimulating works that reflect various directions emerging in today's art. Thus the collection ranges from fascinating reprises of tradition to phenomena that appear startlingly new. The focus is on the particular work rather than the representation of a movement or direction. The collecting program follows a belief that no a priori restrictions on style or media should dominate. Acquisitions are open-ended as a celebration of contemporary art's diversity - limitations are primarily due to ceiling height and relatively limited space for three-dimensional objects."
The late, lamented Lehman Brothers has done its own share of arts supporting, so we are very sad to see them fall. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a Robert Lehman Collection housed in the Robert Lehman Wing. And even regular Joe Wall Streeters do their part to keep the contemporary art scene alive. See this article for more.
So, as left wing as we are ideologically, it helps to remember that rich people and rich companies can be terrific patrons of the arts... if they can stay in business. Keep on trucking Neuberger Berman and thanks!